2007 Responsible Tourism Awards Winners & Finalists

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n search of responsible travel accommodations in the region, WILD ASIA short-listed six candidates and sent its fact-finding teams out to find our winners for the 2007 Responsible Tourism Award winners.

In 2007 we chose from six finalists within 3 main categories. The categories were: Community or Family-run Homestay, Wildlife and Ecolodge, and Luxury Boutique Resorts and Hotels.

Community or Family-run Homestays

WINNER: Andaman Discoveries, Thailand

Andaman Discoveries is one of North Andaman Tsunami Relief (NATR)’s on-going community-driven development projects. NATR is an independent, non profit organization that continues to provide assistance to tsunami-impacted coastal communities of the North Andaman. To date, NATR has implemented over 120 projects in twelve villages, focusing on human needs and services. Explore diverse, pristine eco-systems such as taking a traditional long-tail boat through dense mangrove forests; hike through lush rainforests that are alive with the sounds of exotic wildlife; snorkel in clear, emerald-colored waters teeming with vibrant marine life; or simply soak up the sun on a deserted island all to yourself.

FINALIST: Tmatboey Thoeun Krasaing Ibis Tourism Site, Cambodia

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has established a pilot ibis ecotourism project at Tmatboey in Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary, Preah Vihear province, the only known site where both Giant and White-shouldered Ibises breed and can be reliably seen. The birds are found in the forests surrounding the village, which are a mosaic of seasonally inundated dipterocarp deciduous trees.

 

Wildlife Lodges, Eco-resorts and Dive Resorts

WINNER: Udayana Eco Lodge, Indonesia

Udayana Eco Lodge is located on Jimbaran Heights, 30 hectares of bush land overlooking a beautiful view of Mt. Agung and Jimbaran and Benoa Bays. Only ten minutes from the airport it is quiet and peaceful, yet just 15 minutes from shopping in Nusa Dua or Kuta. Jimbaran beach and fish restaurants are only five minutes away. Uluwatu and other famous surf spots are nearby. The swimming pool is set in beautiful quiet gardens. Safe, quiet and convenient to all of southern Bali’s attractions, Udayana Eco Lodge is the perfect choice for a great holiday in Bali.

FINALIST: Sarinbuana Eco Lodge, Indonesia

A haven for nature lovers, this award winning Mountain Eco Lodge is located at 700m on the slopes of Mount Batukaru in central Bali, only 1½ hours from Kuta & Ubud. With spectacular views of southern Bali & the mountain peak. The protected rainforest is just 5 minutes away! Your hand crafted bungalow is surrounded by a lush tropical “Food forest” of cacao, coffee, coconuts, vanilla and jungle fruits. Dine in our open air restaurant or in your room, delicious healthy meals made from our organic gardens. Rainforest treks or “Edible Food forest” walks, swim in our natural water pools, walk in our extensive gardens, take part in one of our workshops from traditional wood carving to Balinese cooking, language or temple decorations or just relax and have a massage. You can expect private and intimate service from our local staff with a maximum of 10 guests only. Sarinbuana Eco Lodge is a retreat into nature and a chance for you to be a part of this vibrant culture.

 

Luxury and Boutique Resorts

WINNER: The Spice Village, India

Set amidst spice plantations, Thekkady is more known for its Periyar Wildlife Reserve. Spice Village is just a stone’s throw away from the game reserve and comprises of individual cottages set amidst a landscaped spice garden. The resort has a swimming pool, games facilities and an excellent restaurant. Ayurvedic treatment is also available on site.

 

FINALIST: Evason Phuket and Six Senses Spa, Thailand

Evason Phuket & Six Senses Spa is the consecutive winner of our Responsible Tourism Award for 2006 & 2007. The RTA 2007 closing ceremony was held in this commendable resort. Located at Rawai Beach on the south eastern side of Phuket Island. It is set amongst 64 acres of beautifully landscaped tropical parklands and gardens, and looks out to stunning views across the Andaman Sea. The resort was opened in 1972 as “Phuket Island Resort.” In 2001 Evason Phuket took it over and made vast improvements with regard to responsible tourism.

 

Acknowledgments

The Responsible Tourism Award 2006 was made possible with the support of the UK’s Global Opportunities FundLangkawi Development Authority (LADA) and Frangipani Resort Langkawi.

Wild Asia’s Reza Azmi pushes for sustainable tourism

Former environmental researcher with WWF Malaysia Reza Azmi saw a pressing need to get tourism operators in Asia and beyond to do business more sustainably by engaging with local communities. The Malaysian tells Elizabeth Ferns how he, together with some peers, has since set up his own social enterprise-based consultancy – Wild Asia.

Wild Asia’s main initiative is responsible tourism. How is sustainable tourism different from responsible tourism?

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Sustainable Island Programme

Soft, white sandy beaches lining sparkling blue-green waters and coconut trees swaying in the background attract thousands of tourists every year. However, our marine ecosystem faces irreversible destruction due to the advent of industralisation. Learn about the Sustainable Island Programme (SIP) as an approach to coral reef conservation.

Sustainable Island Programme

In 2007, Reef Check Malaysia conducted 33 surveys, covering 21 sites around the islands off the East coast of Peninsular Malaysia. The results show that overall, the islands on the East coast face a number of pressures which are negatively impacting their coral reefs. These include rapid development of tourism facilities, principally resorts, which increases sewage pollution, leading to the spread of coral-smothering algae. Poor solid waste management adds to the problem.

Other development pressures (for example the recently completed marina and the ongoing beach replenishment project in Tioman Island) are resulting in increased siltation, which would suffocate the reefs. Furthermore, increasing visitor numbers are causing significant physical damage to the reefs.

Although some Reef Check surveys have been carried out in previous years, there is still insufficient data to accurately identify trends in the status of coral reefs in the East coast islands.

tiomanRealising that an extended survey programme is required to holistically address the environmental conundrum faced by the reefs, Wild Asia, together with Reef Check Malaysia, developed the Sustainable Island Programme (SIP), which was quickly mobilised into action in March 2008.

The SIP combines the strengths of Reef Check and Wild Asia in assessing the stresses faced by the reefs and coming up with a sound reef conservation management plan. This inevitably requires monitoring the condition of the marine ecosystem by surveying more dive sites and correlating it with what is happening on the islands itself.

Wild Asia’s strengths in Responsible Tourism and environmental/biodiversity conservation would come in handy as the effectiveness of reef conservation measures in the long-term would require improvements with regards to the practices and habits of dive operators, resort owners and local communities residing on the islands.

Operators committed to Responsible Tourism would have to ensure that they preserve their local environment and the people and cultures within it. They do this by careful management of all areas of their business, from the resources they buy to the care of their staff to the disposal of waste. They focus on maximising their guests’ holiday experience while minimising the impact this has on the area. Preserving our natural areas and the communities in them serves a dual purpose as it also protects the very things that so many tourists come to Asia to see, which will ultimately increase the all important revenue from the tourist trade.

OUR Reefs, OUR Heritage, OUR Responsibility

Currently only 4% of the world’s marine ecosystems is left undamaged by human impact. It is estimated that 42% of Malaysia’s coral reefs are facing high levels of risk of damage from coastal development, sedimentation, marine-based pollution, overfishing and destructive fishing. In addition to that, global warming is putting further stress on the reefs to survive as higher water temperatures for prolonged periods would result in coral bleaching and will eventually lead to the coral’s death.

With these statistics in mind, let us contribute towards highlighting the significance of coral reefs in sustaining the livelihood of millions of people dependent on fisheries, pharmaceuticals and tourism.

The Results

  • A total of 50 reef check surveys were conducted at selected coral reef sites on Redang, Perhentian, Tioman, Tenggol and Aur Islands. 
  • Islands are faced with too much stress from sewage and waste pollution, sedimentation from island development and over-capacity in terms of tourists and tourist facilities. While the increase in the number of tourists visiting the islands is desirable for economic reasons, this also brings pollution to the sea which can negatively affect the very thing tourists and visitors come to appreciate. 
  • Eco-checks on participating resorts have highlighted the obvious environmental issues the islands face and the main challenges they experience in dealing with implementing good practices. As resorts that participated in the SIP eco-checks this year are representative of operators throughout the respective islands i.e. Tioman and Perhentian, the main issues and challenges they have highlighted during the eco-checks would be applicable to almost all others. 
  • Island operators and Marine Park Officers are now switched on about the SIP and will take the lead where reef check surveys and water quality monitoring are concerned. They are able to play their role in coordinating and mobilizing people to continue the activities of the SIP. 
  • 2006 Responsible Tourism Awards Winners & Finalists

    In search of responsible travel accommodations in the region, WILD ASIA selected eight distinguished operators in Asia as our winners for the 2006 Responsible Tourism Award.

    Wild Asia’s first Responsible Tourism Awards were given out in November 2006. The awards meant we were able to reward those business operations that were making a positive difference in the tourism industry – an essential part of promoting responsible tourism. The winning resorts provide excellent examples of how to apply Responsible Tourism practices successfully. Not only does their work demonstrate efforts towards reducing their impact on the environment and benefiting the local community, but it has also proved to make financial sense, a fact that we hope will inspire others to follow in their footsteps.

    In 2006 there were 3 main categories. The categories were: Luxury Boutique Resorts and Hotels, Eco-venture Lodges and Homestays, and Best of Langkawi.

    Luxury-Boutique Resorts & Hotels

    Awarded to high-end operators in recognition of outstanding implementation of environmental management practices and social programmes that benefit both the host institution and the surrounding community.

    Evason Phuket & Six Senses Spa, Thailand

    A commendable example of providing passion and leadership from the top, Evason Phuket provides an enabling atmosphere for building effective teams to overcome the challenges of sustainable tourism. The resort’s environmental management and performance has so far been exemplary, given the age of the property, as its owners are investing in improving standards. The property is fully certified under Green Globe 21 and Green Leaf tourism certification schemes.

    Alila Manggis, Bali, Indonesia

    By adopting a personal style compatible to Balinese living, Alila Manggis offers insights and immersion into the local culture and its distinctive community practices and products. Over 80% of its staff comes from surrounding villages less than 10 km away, while its commitments to sustainable tourism are recognized by Green Globe 21.

    Alila Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

    Located near one of the island’s cultural centers, Alila Ubud sets the tone for experiencing the Balinese way with programmes aimed at art, dance and spirituality. Transparent agreements with surrounding communities ensure that local economies benefit and that customs are observed. Over 65% of its staff comes from surrounding villages less than 10 km away, while its commitments to sustainable tourism are recognized by Green Globe 21.

    Eco-ventures Lodges and Homestays

    Committment to Responsible Tourism doesn’t take a big budget. This award recognizes low-budget or community-run operations.

    Nanga Sumpa Lodge, Sarawak, Malaysia

    By living the Iban lifestyle through participation in longhouse activities and engaging in their cultural heritage, Nanga Sumpa offers total absorption in their indigenous ways through a responsible tour operator (Borneo Adventure). With regular communication with village chiefs over its ten-year span, Borneo Adventure is attentive to the needs and societal changes of a longhouse community in the modern world. The lodge was recently singled out in Lonely Planet’s Code Green publication that features meaningful travel sites around the world.

    The Best of Langkawi 2006

    Awarded to an operator, within a specific destination, in recognition of their commitment towards the principles and best practices of Responsible Tourism.

    Tanjung Rhu Resort, Langkawi, Malaysia

    Set amid the coastal habitat of Langkawi Island, Tanjung Rhu is a haven that maintains 70% of its natural beauty and displays an exemplary array of local flora within its operating area. The resort maintains a resident naturalist and provides activities to engage guests in local celebrations and events, in addition to its strong support for local employment. Behind the scenes, the property has worked hard to ensure that its environmental management systems are in line with ISO 14001.

     

    Acknowledgments
    The Responsible Tourism Award 2006 was made possible through the UK’s Global Opportunities Fund, Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) and Frangipani Resort Langkawi.